Here’s the thing that happens when you spend three months searching for an internship while finishing up Junior year classes and then spend a month traveling almost every week.. Days blend together and then you wake up and realize it’s already half way through July and you leave for Europe in less than two weeks! That being said, I’ve got posts ready to go and content will be more regular in the months to come. I’ve wanted to share this post for a while now and just never quite got around to finishing it, but the day has come and I have a fabulous list of tips and tricks for making the most out of time in a new city.
First up are some times on how to find out about the best spots in town. Now as you may have noticed from recaps about places we went, I always tried to look for the ‘lesser known’ places in addition to the obvious must see things.
free walking tours – many cities have these and they work on a tips basis.. as long as the weather is nice, it is a great way to see parts of a city and get your bearings on the first or second day.. even just using their website as a way to figure out a route to see certain places or where to go is also a great option.
buzzfeed lists / google searches – google seems like a no brainer, but the other key thing to do is use buzzfeed. you can just google ‘buzzfeed + city name’ and typically this will come up with any article that references that particular place. these lists are great as they usually include some funky spots that aren’t as ‘touristy’
ask locals – the last thing when in a new city is to ask the locals. obviously be conscious of how you do this as you don’t want to come off as rude, but if you are in a coffee shop or out to a meal, ask the server or barista for some places that might not be as well known.
postcards – it may seem out dated, but postcards are a great thing to collect while you travel since they’re cheap. in each country, I would try to mail myself one so that I had the stamp (it’s fun to see), but I would also write one almost every day as a way to keep a pseudo journal.. at some point I will take all of the postcards and other little trinkets I collected and make an album (or two) that will sit on a coffee table in a future apartment, but the nice thing is for now, it isn’t taking up a tone of space.
public transit / bus trips – in just about every city I visited last fall, we used public transit at leas once. I’ll note an app later on that is incredibly helpful in this, but in general I found public transit a fun way to ‘feel local’ and also a much cheaper way to get around.
explore outside the norm – this is my final and favorite tip. I find that when traveling, it can feel much more like you are an outsider when all you do is find the touristy things, but if you take the time to search out a place or two that are more local, it gives a better sense of culture and the place you are in rather than just what the stereotype is.
Part two of this post is a list of apps that made my life SO much easier while traveling.
Pinboard – Pinboard is amazing. You can save ‘pins’ on any place of interest (just search the name) and then it will integrate with maps to give you directions. We would put pins on everywhere we wanted to go (and color code based on type – food/museum/park/etc) and then figure out the best way to it as many places as possible. I also have a board of places I hope to go one day and places I’ve been.
CityMapper – CityMapper keeps expanding its list of cities and it is amazing. We would use it daily in London and it integrates with many metro systems to provide actual times on when a train/bus/metro will arrive so you know exactly when to be somewhere.
Google translate – In cities that english was not the first language, google translate proved to be a lifesaver. While most people would start speaking english to you once you began to butcher their language, google translate made it easy to learn a few key words or phrases and then save them for where internet or cell service was spotty.
Afterlight – I get so many questions on how I edit my photos and afterlight is literally my favorite app. You can create custom filters and easily throw a white boarder around any photo to make it a square. Heidi introduced me to it while we were traveling and I’ve been addicted for probably 8 months now..
Viber / FaceTime – Viber & FaceTime are both amazing for keeping in contact with everyone at home. Both are ways to message and chat for free (just make sure facetime is on wifi only) and I found that FaceTime ‘voice only’ made the clearest calls of any app.
Hopefully this list is helpful & finding places to see and how to get there is just a bit easier on the next adventure.